Forget cakes and cookies, mac and cheese is my comfort food of choice. And luckily, there is no shortage of variations on this classic, so it just never gets old. :) This White Cheddar Mac and Cheese is incredibly simple, fast, easy, and a little more well rounded than plain mac and cheese, so it’s totally meal-worthy and perfect for busy weeknights. The flavor is a little smoky, a little garlicky, and full of that wonderfully sharp white cheddar. In other words, soooo good!
Do I Have to Use White Cheddar?
You can definitely use yellow (orange) cheddar in place of the white cheddar in this recipe, if you need. They both melt beautifully into a silky sauce. Yellow cheddar is usually much more budget-friendly, as well.
Can I Substitute the Evaporated Milk?
No, unfortunately, you can not substitute the evaporated milk in this recipe. This unique composition of evaporated (low moisture, high protein) is what allows the cheese to emulsify into a smooth sauce without using a roux (flour and butter mixture). It will not work with regular milk or dairy milk substitutes.
Other Substitution Ideas
Low Carb – Substitute the pasta with cauliflower florets.
Vegetarian – Substitute the chicken with tempeh, or cauliflower florets.
Cauliflower is a pretty versatile ingredient and just happens to go great with cheese sauce (see my Spicy Roasted Cauliflower with Cheese Sauce recipe).
More Mac and Cheese Recipes:
White Cheddar Mac and Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli
- 1/2 lb. pasta (any short shape) ($0.67)
- 1/2 lb. frozen broccoli florets ($1.30)
- 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 2/3 lb.) ($2.00)
- 1 pinch salt and pepper ($0.05)
- 1 Tbsp cooking oil ($0.04)
- 2 Tbsp butter ($0.26)
- 1 cup evaporated milk ($0.53)
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder ($0.02)
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika ($0.02)
- 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
- 8 oz. extra sharp white cheddar, shredded ($1.75)
- Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and continue to boil until tender. Add the frozen broccoli florets to the pot of boiling water and pasta, and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Drain the pasta and broccoli together in a colander.
- While the pasta is cooking, prepare the chicken. Season both sides of the chicken breast with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add one tablespoon cooking oil to a large, deep skillet and heat over medium. Once hot, swirl the oil to coat the surface of the skillet, add the chicken breast, and cook on each side until golden brown and cooked through (about 5-7 minutes per side). Remove the cooked chicken to a clean cutting board and allow it to rest for five minutes, then chop it into small cubes.
- Turn the heat under the skillet used to cook the chicken down to medium-low, and add the butter. Allow the butter to melt, and use a whisk to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Pour in the evaporated milk and continue to whisk to dissolve the browned bits completely off the bottom.
- Whisk the garlic powder, smoked paprika, and salt into the evaporated milk. Once the evaporated milk is hot, begin adding the shredded white cheddar, one handful at a time, whisking until it is fully melted before adding the next handful. Once all the cheese has been whisked into the hot sauce, turn the heat down to low.
- Add the cooked and drained pasta and broccoli, and the chopped chicken to the skillet with the cheese sauce. Stir to combine and fully coat the pasta, broccoli, and chicken in the sauce, then enjoy!
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How to Make White Cheddar Mac and Cheese – Step by Step Photos
Start by cooking the pasta and broccoli. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then once boiling, add 1/2 lb. pasta. Continue to boil until the pasta is tender, then add 1/2 lb. frozen broccoli florets and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Drain the pasta and broccoli together in a colander.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the chicken. Season one boneless skinless chicken breast with a pinch of salt on each side. Add 1 Tbsp cooking oil to a large deep skillet and heat over medium. Once hot, swirl the oil to coat the skillet, then add the chicken. Cook the chicken on each side until golden brown and cooked through. Remove the chicken to a clean cutting board, let it rest for five minutes, then chop into small cubes.
Turn the heat under the skillet used to cook the chicken down to medium-low and add 2 Tbsp butter. Allow the butter to melt and use a whisk to begin scraping up the browned bits from the bottom.
Pour in 1 cup evaporated milk and continue to cook and whisk until all the browned bits are dissolved off the bottom and the evaporated milk is hot.
Season the evaporated milk with 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp smoked paprika, and 1/4 tsp salt.
Now that the evaporated milk is hot and well seasoned, begin adding the 8oz. shredded extra sharp white cheddar, one handful at a time. Whisk the cheese into the sauce until fully melted before adding the next handful.
Once all the cheddar has been added, the sauce will be smooth and thickened.
Add the cooked and drained pasta, broccoli, and chopped chicken back to the skillet with the sauce, then stir to coat.
And that’s it! White Cheddar Mac and Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli is served!!